Between the Lines Show down in Trenton

Trenton was like a seen from High Noon, with Gov. Jon Corzine playing Gary Cooper’s role, walking down the lonely aisles of the state Capital with his hands poised above his six shooters for the final confrontation with the state Assembly led by Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts.

For nearly two decades the state legislature played politics when balancing the budget, refusing to come to grips with a fundamental problem: how to continue to provide state services when taxpayers balk each time the state has to pay for them?

Corzine was brought into the political world in the late 1990s touted as a businessman who might to able to get a grip on government’s growing financial problems. As a U.S. Senator, Corzine, however, did not stand out in the general public because he was among 100 people working in the remote ivory halls of the U.S. Senate.

But once he became governor, he came into a position where he could actually use his business skills to get things done – and many of the same people who touted his business skills, suddenly refused to let him use them, fearing the political backlash of a fickle public.

The stand off between Democrats supporting Corzine’s answers and those Democrats that offered other proposals risked giving Republicans a political platform they lacked, repeating a mistake made by Gov. Jim Florio in the early 1990s. The backlash allowed Republicans to seize control of the state Senate and Assembly, then the state house.

The problem is: services cost money, and the state could not continue to play the financial shell game Governors Christie Whitman and Jim McGreevey played. In fact, Whitman’s use of unemployment funds, retirement funds and other revenues dug an even deeper financial hole the Corzine administration was forced to face.

Corzine stuck to his guns, and managed to eek out a compromise that made him look stronger than he has in the past, allowing him to stand tall against challenges that toppled Florio and others.

But you can expect some bad feelings to come out of the bitter battle waged in the six day war in Trenton.

Although state Assemblyman and Union City Mayor Brian Stack seems to have put off his ambitions to replace Bernard Kenny as the state Senator, the budget battle may see offers of support pouring in from Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts and others in revenge for conflicts over the budget.

Can Stack be tempted to run any way in the 2007 Democratic Primary for state Senate? Only time will tell.

Political bridges being rebuilt?

Apparently some bridges are being mended as a result of possible challenges in the 2007 primary battle, among which is the alleged rift between Assemblyman Louis Manzo and his previous running mate Assemblyman Charles Epps.

Well, rift may be too strong a word although Manzo was critical of Epps’ school trip to London.

But with some Democrats questioning whether Manzo will be on the ticket in the 31st District, Manzo appears to have solidified his connections with State Senator Joseph Doria and Epps.

The fate of Sheriff Joseph Cassidy seems to have been settled as reports claim Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy – who also serves as the Jersey City Democratic Organization chairman – is lining up behind Cassidy. Former Police Chief Robert Troy, who had been rumored as a possible replacement for Cassidy, will apparently take a position in the sheriff’s office.

Jersey City Councilman Steve Lipski has been called the politician with nine lives because he has managed to rebound again and again from circumstances that would have destroyed the political careers of others. He appears to be in the good graces of Mayor Healy.

Lipski’s former campaign guru, Steve Kush – with whom Lipski has since had a falling out – will apparently make national headlines by running the campaign of the first declared Republican presidential candidate for the 2008 election cycle.

Kush is apparently on the verge of signing an agreement with John Herman Cox, a Chicago-born former Congressman, conservative talk show host, who recently authored the book Politics Inc. Cox advertises himself as a Reagan Republican and hopes to represent the conservative portion of the party that already sees more liberal Republicans making moves on the White House.

Fireworks draws out of towners in Secaucus

Some residents in Secaucus are really upset by the recent political fire works show they witnesses at the annual Fourth of July festivities.

Hudson County Democrats, extremely worried about the historically conservative leanings of Secaucus in national elections (most vote for Republican presidential candidates) decided to bring in the road show for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, bussing in people from through North Hudson to help bolster the pro-Menendez senitment in the crowd.

Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and his sidekick, Town Administrator Anthony Iacono, have not been on the best of terms with Menendez since firing Menendez’s pal town attorney Donald Scarinci in 2000. This may be a move to help engraciate Secaucus to Menendez at a critical time when Menendez needs Secaucus to vote for him rather than his Republican opponent, Tom Kean, Jr.

County Executive Tom DeGise has lashed out against Kean’s campaign for its painting the misperception that Hudson County is the capital of corruption when DeGise has taken many steps since taking office to counter potential corruptions.

North Hudson a political powerhouse?

While Hudson County appears to be a peace politically, a struggle for control of the Democratic Party is underway. Some see Healy, Jersey City Councilman Bill Gaughan and DeGise as struggling to keep its share of the power. While Doria’s reelection appears keep a powerful base in south Hudson, many observors see the upcoming expected election of West New York Mayor Albio Sires to the House of Representatives as the new center of power replacing Menendez. With the very capable Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner as Sires’ side, Stack’s growing power, and the still-substantial base of State Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco, North Hudson appears to dominate the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future,.

The election of Sires will also mean that Freeholder Chairman and West New York Commissioner Sal Vega will move up to become mayor and Assemblyman replacing Sires. His freeholder seat will go to a Guttenberg resident. While Mayor David Delle Donna is the most likely candidate to replace Vega, Brian Guaschino, Vega Freeholder aide has also been named.

Two small corrections must be made from a column two weeks ago that claimed Guttenberg hasn’t seen a county elected official in several decades when in fact, County Clerk Javier Inclan was from Guttenberg when he was elected. In the same column, Robert Sabello was named as a former Guttenberg Freeholder when he was actually an Assemblyman.

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